Narcissism is the term often used to describe a person who is “grandiose, self-centered and exploitative”. The word narcissistic seems relatively difficult to describe because there are differences in opinion on how one becomes a narcissist. That is, is it nature or nurture? Does it happen due to a trauma suffered or is the person born that way? Either way, having a parent who is a narcissist requires some coping techniques. How do you deal with a mother who is narcissistic? And how do you know that you are definitely dealing with a narcissistic mom?
If you are asking yourself, “Is my mother a narcissist?”, then see typical narcissist behaviors in the section below. Also learn some simple ways to deal with a mother who is narcissistic.
You may also like: Signs of Childhood Trauma in adults
How does a narcissistic mother behave?
You are likely to notice the following behaviours from a narcissistic mother. Of course, not all of these might be evident at one time as some of them depend on your lifestyles as a family. A narcissistic mom’s behaviour might also be a little different based on her age. An aging narcissistic mother might exhibit slightly different attitudes. Generally, though, some of these traits might ring true of your own mom if she does have narcissistic tendencies.
9 traits of a narcissistic mom are:
- Hypersensitive to criticism. They feel like they are receiving unwarranted criticism. It does not take too much for them to feel attacked and they may even hear criticism where there is none.
- Self-importance. They think a lot higher of themselves than others might think of them. In fact, they think they are better than others and deserve to have or receive more out of life than others.
- Bullies and belittles others. In feeling so much more important than other people, a narcissistic mom might be found belittling people and in the process, also bullying them.
- Trying to live her life through her children. When you deal with a mother who is narcissistic, you might notice the interesting trait where they see their kids as an extension of themselves. This means that they find it hard to differentiate between their own goals and dreams and those of their children. For example, they might try to force their children to do the things that they themselves did not get the opportunity to do.
- Lacking empathy. Narcissistic mothers are entirely too self-involved to recognize other people’s emotions therefore they are unable to develop empathy for others easily.
- Able to hold grudges for long periods. In feeling like the world is against her, a narcissistic mother will feel slighted very quickly and will find it difficult to let go of those feelings. This leads to grudge-holding over a long period of time.
- Competing with her kids. A narcissistic mom can also feel the need to compete with her children. While other moms encourage their kids to get ahead for sake of the kids’ own success, narcissistic mothers are unlikely to be encouraging but rather focused on how they can be more successful than their children.
- Emotional manipulation. Narcissistic parents tend to be very good manipulators. Not just of people in general but specifically of their kids’ emotions. They are very good at manipulating their children into doing things for them that their kids’ are not obligated to do. They can do this by making their kids pity them, for example.
- Deflecting/blaming others. Nothing is ever their fault. It is always someone else’s fault that something has gone wrong.
How do kids of narcissistic mothers act?
Studies have found that as living with narcissistic parents, children tend to be narcissistic themselves because they are mirroring their parents’ behavior.
Kids of narcissistic mothers can feel like they are extra special and somehow entitled to more than other people are entitled to. The superiority complex cultivated affects their view of the world and how it should treat them. It is a behaviour which is in itself a sign of narcissism.
On a brighter note, kids of narcissistic mothers are also forced to develop resilience. Resilience is the capacity of a dynamic system to withstand or recover from significant challenges that threaten its stability, viability or development. Children of narcissistic mothers are forced to find other ways to function in normal social settings as they are having an usual home life setting. This teaches them unique coping techniques and they become very resilient.
It is also not unusual to find that kids of narcissistic mothers have developed addiction disorders. In adulthood, addiction to substances such as drugs and alcohol can develop as they become a comforting and easy coping mechanism for children who have suffered the trauma of dealing with narcissistic mothers.
You may also like: Is the attachment parenting style for you?
How do you survive a narcissistic parent?
4 Strategies for dealing with a narcissistic parent include the following:
- When you deal with a mother who is narcissistic, you need to take the time to study her patterns. For example, come to understand her patterns of emotional abuse. Be able to tell when she is using emotional manipulation to get something out of you.
- Adjust your expectations. You know the saying that goes like, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them”? Well, that’s exactly what adjusting your expectations around your mother is about. Once you determine who your mother is and has been your whole life, do not subject yourself to constant disappointment by expecting any different behaviour from her.
- Do not be scared to let your narcissistic mother know that you understand exactly who she is. Point out narcissistic behaviours for what they are. Try not to do so in an angry way but rather in a matter-of-fact way. This is easier to do when you are not angry.
- Seek therapy. It can be difficult to discuss your relationship with your narcissistic mother with someone who has not had the same experience themselves. A narcissistic mother son relationship, for example, can be tough to describe to a friend who has a different relationship with their own mother. It may be easier and more freeing to speak to a therapist or counsellor who not only understands your relationship from a professional standpoint, but can also provide you with tools and coping mechanisms that you can use to improve your relationship with your mom. Seeking therapy can help you to do the work you need to do to heal from the years of psychological and emotional damage from having to deal with a mother who is a narcissist.